David Holmes began his career as a DJ in Belfast pubs when he was 15 and ran two night clubs in Belfast Art College known as Sugar Sweet and Shake Yer Brain (the former hosted Orbital, who went on to write Belfast as a result). Virtually everything he has ever recorded seems to be the soundtrack for unmade movies. His first album, This Film Is Crap, Let’s Slash The Seats (1995) pioneered his ambient, atmospheric sound to great effect.
His second album, Let’s Get Killed, specialised in using a dictaphone to record conversations with New York lowlife: gangsters, pimps, streetwalkers, tramps and drug dealers. He would then rework these into generally chilled vignettes that effectively conveyed the atmosphere of the street. A single from the album, Don’t Die Just Yet (FF 1997 #10), actually reached no. 33 in the UK charts, and was followed by another hit, My Mate Paul. As a result of this, Danny De Vito commissioned him to score Steven Soderburgh’s film Out Of Sight, and to date Holmes has scored ten movies.
Although Don’t Die Just Yet, the title of which Holmes claims to have been inspired by the sight of some freshly-painted graffiti, is actually a cover of a song by the pulchritudinally-challenged lounge lizard Serge Gainsbourg, Holmes doesn’t see anything wrong in that at all:
I like music because it’s good, whether it’s hip hop, soul, punk rock, house music or reggae, good music is good music in my eyes, and I just want to get caught up in what we’re doing, rather than what everyone else is doing.
The version voted into the Festive Fifty, however, was not the LP mix, but rather the Arab Strap version, which I find a trifle odd and varies considerably from the original that I know: it features a Scottish guy (Malcolm Middleton?) talking about a holiday romance.